1. Compensation for Glen Assoun

Glen Assoun. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Nova Scotia’s justice minister says officials in his department and at the federal level are working on ‘early’ compensation for Glen Assoun,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:

In an interview Tuesday, Justice Minister Mark Furey said no decision has been made yet about an inquiry or an apology to Assoun. He said he’s talked with federal Justice Minister David Lametti and their focus right now is early compensation.

“That’s the discussion I’ve had with the federal minister, that’s the direction that both the federal department and provincial department are focused on,” Furey said.

The governments should move quickly on this. We know that down the road, Assoun probably will get a settlement on the order of several million dollars. The details of that settlement have to be worked out, and of course that will take time. But in the meanwhile, Assoun is penniless and living on the kindness of others.

After I interviewed Assoun last month, I came to a realization: “this is what Post Traumatic Stress looks like.” During his 17 years in prison, he suffered four heart attacks. As he steadfastly maintained his innocence, he was disliked by guards and other prisoners alike. He says guards tortured him. Even when out of prison on an extraordinary court-ordered parole, he suffered a mental health crisis while a recommendation that she order a new trial sat on Jody Wilson-Raybould’s desk for 18 months. He has an awful lot to recover from.

Assoun doesn’t have big needs or desires. He wants to buy a piece of land somewhere, get a truck, and live out his days as comfortably as he can. Let’s give him a few hundred thousand dollars right now so he can start that journey, and work out the details of a larger settlement later.

2. Abdilahi Elmi

Abdilahi Elmi
Abdilahi Elmi

I showed up yesterday for the press conference/rally held by supporters of Abdilahi Elmi in the hallway outside of MP Andy Filmore’s office, but Julia-Simone Rutgers wrote an entire article about it for Star Halifax, so go read what she has to say.

Elmi (I gather that his friends and supporters refer to him as Elmi) is primarily supported by a group of women in Edmonton, but the Halifax group has gone down this road before with their advocacy for Abdoul Abdi, so they’re giving support as well. El Jones is among them; she’ll likely have a piece about this soon for the Examiner.

3. Wyse Road

Buddy without a helmet is intending to illegally ride his bicycle onto the Macdonald Bridge, but he’s got a great view of the proposed 19-storey development at the corner of Wyse Road and Nantucket Avenue.

CBC reporter Pam Berman looks at a bevy of proposed developments on the Wyse Road corridor in Dartmouth, not far from my house.

One is a proposed 19-storey development at the former Scotia Bank site just across the street from the Macdonald Bridge. That building is now plastered with Preszler Law advertisements.

I still want to understand how this site (and the Dartmouth Shopping Centre, and the McDonald’s) were hived off from the Dartmouth Common, which once stretched as far as Boland Street. It makes some sense that, as with the Halifax Common, much of the land was used for public purposes — the Sportsplex, the Jelly Bean Square social housing project, the Bridge Terminal — but how so much of the Common was privatized and became commercial property is a story that should be told.

The Ghosns want to build seven buildings ranging from six to 35 storeys on that empty lot where the rain-inducing carnival is held every year, across the street from the Dartmouth Shopping Centre.

Another of the proposed developments is a 12-story building at 153/155 Wyse Road, where the Tim Hortons was.

A more modest six-storey building has already been approved and is under construction at the former Little Nashville/world’s worst strip club/animal hospital site.

It makes sense to have dense development in this area, as it’s an easy and convenient bus ride to downtown Halifax from the Bridge Terminal. I’ve long wondered why the Dartmouth Shopping Centre hasn’t been torn down and replaced with a mid-rise residential/commercial neighbourhood — it seems like an enormous waste of space, as is.

But details matter, of course. Like how on Earth are they going to cram a 19-storey building onto that postage stamp size lot next to the Sportsplex, and how would that affect an already jammed up intersection?

For myself, I don’t mind lots more neighbours; I just don’t want a bunch of schlock cluttering up the neighbourhood. And judging by the fantasy architectural renderings, most of the proposed buildings are uninspired glass behemoths that will first kill a bunch of birds, then degrade into slums before crumbling and being razed circa 2050. Surely we can do better than this.

Probably, though, most of the proposals won’t get built. As Berman points out, all the proposals squeaked in just before the Centre Plan is to be adopted, so they all avoid supposedly more onerous planning restrictions. I’m not sure how important that is — the developers could still avoid the Centre Plan by simply asking city council for a development agreement that ignores all the new rules — but I guess it makes sense to the developers.

4. Dirty cruise ships

The Queen Mary 2 is operated by Carnival Corp. & PLC. Photo: Halifax Examiner

“Carnival Corp. & PLC is the largest cruise company in the world, operating ships across nine brands including Carnival, Holland America Lines, Cunard, Princess, Aida and Sebourn,” writes Peter Ziobrowski for his Chronicle Herald column:

This season, Carnival ships will make 80 calls on the Port of Halifax, and make up 42 per cent of port cruise traffic.

In 2016, five Princess Cruises vessels were found to have been using so called “magic pipes,” which allowed oil waste to be discharged overboard, and then lying about it to authorities. The company was fined US$40 million, and put on probation by the U.S. government.

Carnival then received another US$20 million fine this past June for 800 violations of its probation in the first two years of its probation, including illegally discharging food waste contaminated with plastic and metal.

The Carnival Fantasy badly failed a U.S. government health inspection earlier this month. The P&O Azura illegally burned heavy fuel oil in protected Icelandic waters. Ships have exceeded speed limits, and flaunted other environmental regulations. The issues are not limited to the Carnival brands or the environment. All lines seem to have issues.

Carnival PLC had a profit of US$3.2 billion in 2018 — US$60 million in fines is pocket change.

The whistleblower in the magic pipe case was awarded $1 million by the court.

5. “Before the courts”

No talking allowed. Photo: Halifax Examiner

After police arrested Mariah Baker, a trans woman, in one of the many cannabis dispensary raids, they didn’t know how to handle her at police lockup, reports Erin MacInnis for the CBC. The article is a good look into how institutions are still learning about trans issues. I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say about that.

But when MacInnis made the perfunctory phone call to police spokesperson John MacLeod, he “said he was unable to comment specifically on the case as it’s before the courts.” I do have something to say about that.

There is no law prohibiting someone from speaking to an issue that’s before the courts. There is nothing that MacLeod could say that would affect the outcome of Baker’s charges. MacLeod could have said “huh, we should learn from this,” or “no one here cares about trans issues,” or “who’s Mariah Baker?” and it would make no difference whatsoever in how the judge rules on Baker’s cannabis charges.

That’s not to pick on MacLeod. For decades, “it’s before the courts!” has been the go-to bullshit dodge of politicians and PR people who want to avoid dealing with controversial or politically charged issues, or who simply are trying to protect their institutions from criticism.

We should start calling them out on it. So again: nothing prohibits anyone from discussing things that are before the courts. If you don’t want to talk about it, just say you’re too afraid to talk about it; that’s a better and truer explanation.

6. Nova Centre hotel

Last month, Kayla Hepworth, the communications manager for The Sutton Place Hotels, told Star Metro reporter Yvette d’Entremont that its Nova Centre hotel would open “in the first quarter of 2020,” or before April, seven months from now. But here we are late summer and Sutton Place has not yet advertised any job opportunities at its Halifax location.

Way back in 2017, Jan deRoos, a professor of Hotel Finance and Real Estate at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, told me that it would ideally take a year to get hotel staff trained and the hotel properly publicized before opening:

“You’d want that long to work with the convention centre operator for joint promotions and advertising.”

It would be possible, said deRoos, to get a hotel up and operating in less than a year, but he estimated that the Nova Centre hotel would require at least 150 employees. “You don’t want to poach most of those from competitors, and management positions will take time to recruit the right people. I’d say it’d take at least six months.”

Even then, he said, once a hotel is opened it will take about two years before all marketing can bring in enough guests to make it successful.

I kinda doubt this thing will open by April.

7. The Icarus Report

An RCMP release from yesterday:

At 4:42 pm Lunenburg County District RCMP responded to a call of a floatplane crash in New Germany. 

Upon arrival on scene, RCMP members discovered a damaged floatplane with two injured occupants. Officers, along with members of New Germany Fire and Northfield Fire Department, helped remove the man and woman from the plane. The two were transported to hospital by EHS with undetermined injuries. No one else was injured in the incident.

Early investigation indicates that the floatplane was attempting to land on a lake near Hwy. 10 when it clipped power lines crashing into the lake. 

Meanwhile, reports David Burke for the CBC:

It has been a deadly year in Canadian skies with 45 people dying in aviation accidents.

Many of the aircraft involved in crashes are privately owned and operated by recreational pilots.

Yesterday, the Transportation Safety Board updated its report on a fatal May 1 crash:

N757NY, a privately operated Piper PA 46-350P aircraft, had departed from Goose Bay (CYYR), NL on a VFR flight plan to Narsarsuaq (BGBW), Greenland with 2 pilots on board. At approximately 0824 ADT, the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) detected an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal from the aircraft. It was determined that the aircraft had crashed into a snow-covered hillside, approximately 31 nm north northeast of Rigolet, NL. Deteriorating weather conditions at the time were less than adequate for air search and rescue resources. Both occupants survived the initial impact, however, one individual later succumbed to their injuries. The survivor was transported to Makkovik, NL via snowmobile until the weather became suitable for an air transport to a hospital in Goose Bay. The individual sustained minor injuries, and was released from the hospital the following day. The TSB is investigating.

The plane was registered to Southern Aircraft Consultancy Inc., a Suffolk, England-based firm that provides “N” numbers so that non-Americans can register their planes in the US. “Make sure you’re in safe and experienced hands, and place your aircraft with us,” says the company on its website.

Last week, an amateur-built plane crashed in Saint John:

On departure, a privately registered, amateur-built Van’s RV-6A from Saint John, NB (CYSJ) to Saint John, NB (CYSJ) appeared to veer off the runway into the grass. The aircraft veered to left, and took 2 bumps into air. On third bump in long grass it flipped forward onto it’s back. One person onboard taken to hospital.

Also last week, a helicopter struck a power line near Trenton:

A Bell 206B helicopter operated by Vision Air Services, was conducting wildlife flight survey operations 5 nm east of Trenton (CYTN), NS with 1 pilot and 2 technicians on board. While manoeuvering at low altitude, the helicopter struck and severed a wire that spanned Big Cove bay. The small, single conductor was green in colour, 0.23 inches in diameter, and supplied 7.2 kV electrical power to a small group of buildings north of the bay. The helicopter made a precautionary landing ½ nm north of the location of the collision. There were no injuries. The helicopter sustained impact and electrical arcing damage to the main rotor leading edge surfaces.


1. Angel Moore

Angel Moore
Angel Moore. Photo Robert Devet

Robert Devet continues his series of interviews with local journalists, today with APTN reporter Angel Moore.

Says Moore:

Being an Indigenous journalist is the same as being an Indigenous person. You just see the world differently. You see things in a different context, especially when you have family in community

I don’t think there is such a thing as Indigenous journalism, and it’s not my mission to save the world. All it is is just good journalism. And what makes it good journalism is because of the way we’re scrutinized more. It’s as if we’re held to a higher standard, because the criticism is out there.

We’re not just a news outlet, we’re the first Indigenous network in the world, so we have a responsibility to our community members. I have a responsibility to my family. My relatives watch it, my younger sisters and my younger family members, you know, back home. 


No public meetings this week.

On campus



Thesis Defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Wednesday, 9:30am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Kenneth d’Souza will defend “Autotaxin is Nutritionally Regulated and Alters Mitochondrial Function in Obesity-Induced Insulin Resistance.​”

Thesis Defence, Mathematics and Statistics (Wednesday, 10am, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Christopher T. Jones will defend “On Models for Detecting Evidence of Molecular Adaptation in Homologous Sequences of Protein Coding Genes.​”

Thesis Defence, Biology (Wednesday, 1:30pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Gaye MacDonald will defend “The Nature and Dynamics of Changes in Lipids and Fatty Acids During Postharvest Needle Abscission, Their Role in Cold Acclimation, Ultra-Structural Changes, and Needle Abscission Resistance in Balsam Fir, Abies Balsamea, L​.”

Mitochondrial (de)acetylomic control of brown adipose tissue (BAT), and other “hot topics” in BAT thermogenesis (Wednesday, 4pm, Theatre A, Tupper Medical Building) — Mary-Ellen Harper from the University of Ottawa will talk.


Thesis Defence, Computer Science (Thursday, 1:30pm, Room 430, Goldberg Computer Science Building) — PhD candidate Sima Sharifirad will defend “NLP and Machine Learning Techniques ​to Detect Online Harassment on Social Networking Platforms.”

Thesis Defence, Interdisciplinary PhD Program (Thursday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Crystal Sweeney will defend “Investigation of Carcinogenic Pesticide-Associated N-Nitroso Compounds in Human Serum and Urine in Prince Edward Island.​”

In the harbour

05:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England
05:30: Tombarra, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
06:30: Caribbean Princess, cruise ship with up to 3,756 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney on a 10-day cruise from Quebec City to New York
06:45; Thorco Liva, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 9 from Montrose, Scotland
07:30: Adventure of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,058 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Saint John, on a six-day roundtrip cruise out of New York
12:30: AIDAvita, cruise ship with up to 1,582 passengers, arrives at Pier 23 from Portland, on a 18-day cruise from New York to Hamburg, Germany
16:00: Atlantic Star sails for New York
16:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker,  sails from National Gypsum for sea
16:30: Caribbean Princess sails for Bar Harbor
17:30: Adventure of the Seas sails for New York
18:00: Asian Moon, container ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
20:30: AIDAvita sails for St. John’s


I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.

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  1. Is there any history of wrongful conviction “early payout” in Nova Scotia? I don’t recall ever seeing compensation discussed—hopefully in a preliminary fashion as a precursor to a more substantive package resulting from negotiation—without a legal battle.

    If the two levels of government provide Mr. Assoun with an early payout so he can start to get his life on track after this horrible injustice and it is in fact unusual to do so, some credit is due to both levels for doing the right thing. Let’s cross our fingers the intent isn’t to provide something now in hopes of (contractually) shuttering future discussions.

  2. Wyse Road and area: perfect spots for affordable housing. Oh….there’s no such thing? Sorry. Anyway, I’d rather see affordable housing available throughout many neighbourhoods.
    Jelly Bean Square: When somebody said that in my presence years ago, I corrected them saying it was a racist remark. Isn’t that right? It’s just a reminder, possibly, that we all have to watch out for words and phrases we pick up. However, I’m willing to be wrong.
    The Assoun saga is heartbreaking and…I was going to add unbelievable but that’s not true.

    1. I’ve always been told that Jelly Bean Square was named as such because each building was a different colour, like jelly beans in a bowl. The drab single-colour siding was installed in the late 1990s.

      1. Thanks, Tim Bousquet. I appreciate that explanation. I would apologize to that person I reprimanded if I could remember who it was. My son tells me: Don’t worry about your regrets, Mom; just don’t make new ones.

  3. Re: In the Harbour. By my count there could be up to 9,596 people off three cruise ships roaming Halifax today. What a zoo!

    At one point the waters off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were dumping areas for dirty bilge water and oils from passing ships. Fines increased and the practice appears to have died down. Clearly fines aren’t enough for Carnival. Time to start shaming their passengers.

  4. Donald Marshall was 19 when sent to jail for a murder he did not commit. He was 17 when arrested.
    He received a lifetime pension, not a lump sum payment.
    Assoun should receive similar compensation adjusted for inflation.

  5. Funny how new drivers have all sorts of restrictions on them but new private pilots are basically restricted only by Day vs Night Visual vs Instrument rules. Back in the 80’s you could get your license in 35-40 hours (solo’d around the 16 hour mark) and that basically let you fly in Day VFR conditions anywhere you could pay to go. Add in ultralights, home builts ballons and all kinds of winged contraptions and you would have no time for anything but your icarus report.

    1. Flying private aircraft today is a pretty safe & heavily regulated mode of transportation. To fly a plane you have to complete a certain number of take-offs and landings every six month (to take passengers), re-do your flight test every two years, and write an exam far more comprehensive than the driver license test. On top of that, the solo around the 16 hour mark is a lap of the airport. There’s more dual training before you get out of the instructor’s sight. Overall there is about 100 hours of training, plus a fairly similar amount of studying, before you have your license, then significant ongoing monitoring and retesting. A quick glance at a Drivers Education provider in NS says you need about 35 hours of instruction to take the driving test.

      1. Well I’m stale dated I guess. In 1980 it took 35-40 and the initial solo at around 16 was indeed a lap around the airport. Good to hear they’ve upped the hours requirement.

  6. And yet some people still want to swim in the harbour? Magic pipes aside, I’ve been on a few ships that discharged solid human waste directly overboard (one actually had a fake holding tank built with an overboard discharge inside it). Seriously, people, go find a nice beach somewhere.

  7. Ick. So disgusting to look at those cruise ships and imagine the massive amount of food waste in its dark underbelly. FWIW, the old copy editor in me couldn’t help myself. Ships did not “flaunt” environmental regulations. They “flouted” them.

  8. A great idea to provide interim compensation to Assoun. He is innocent of the crime for which he was incarcerated. Any delay in compensation is further injustice,